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Men over 50 are ‘missing signs of major illnesses' including cancer, research finds

Men over fifty are missing out on crucial health diagnoses, the report says
Jane Kirby, Press Association

MEN over 50 are missing the signs of major illnesses – including cancer, according to research.

A new poll of more than 8,000 over-fifties found that women are far better than men at identifying the signs of potential killers.

While women said they knew the signs for more than half of illnesses, on average men only knew about a third.

Men were also less likely to go to their GP with a range of symptoms, including nagging pain and new lumps.

During the survey, people were asked if they felt they knew the symptoms of several illnesses including arthritis, dementia, and cancer of the bowel, prostate, lung, cervix and breast.

Overall, men were less likely than women to say they knew the signs of bowel cancer (54 per cent compared to 71 per cent of women), lung cancer (33 per cent of men compared to 45 per cent of women) and skin cancer (56 per cent compared to 73 per cent).

They were also less likely to know about dementia (51 per cent of men compared to 66 per cent of women) and osteoporosis (23 per cent of men compared to 45 per cent of women).

Four out of 10 men also did not know what to look out for when it comes to prostate cancer.

When asked what symptoms would prompt them to go to the GP, just 63 per cent of men would go to their doctor if they discover a new lump, compared to 83 per cent of women.

Men were also less likely than women to take action if they had severe pain, persistent headaches or had been feeling unwell for more than five days.

However, men were more likely than women to seek help if they experienced dizziness or nausea or sickness and diarrhoea.

Kevin McMullan, head of Saga Health Insurance - which carried out the research, said: "Getting treatment quickly is really important and in some cases can be vital.

"It is really worrying that men don't know the symptoms of some of some of the biggest killers and are willing to overlook certain symptoms.

"More often than not these symptoms won't be as a result of anything serious, but people should always go to their doctor to get things checked to be on the safe side."

Fran Woodard, executive director of policy and impact, at Macmillan Cancer Support, said: "Today's findings add to existing research from Macmillan Cancer Support, that men are less likely to report the signs and symptoms of cancer. This is especially concerning given that men are 60 per cent more likely to develop, and 70 per cent likely to die from cancer than women.

"Men can be less willing to ask for help and support because they don't know what to look out for or don't know how to talk about changes to their bodies.

"Catching cancer early is one way to increase the chances of survival so it's really important that both men and women report any changes to their health as early as possible. Signs that everyone should be vigilant for include unexplained pain, bleeding, weight loss, lumps or swelling. While these can be caused by something other than cancer, but it is always best to get a GP's opinion."

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